Officer Who Struck, Killed Child Handed 1-Day Suspension

A Dallas police officer has been given a one-day suspension for violating agency policy in an accident that killed a 10-year-old bicyclist.

While responding to a disturbance call without starting his lights and sirens, Sr. Cpl. Michael Vaughn sped around a short curve and struck Cole Berardi as he tried to cross the poorly lit road on Oct. 17, 2008. 

The officers attempted to revive the boy but were unsuccessful. Police spokesperson, Lt. Vernon Hale, described the officers as "distraught" after Berardi died from his injuries.

"It was just a dark road, not well lit," said Lt. Vernon Hale, a Dallas police spokesman, after the accident. "This sounds like a combination of factors" that caused the accident.

According to a decision reached in a disciplinary hearing Thursday night, Police Chief David Kunkle said Vaughn will be suspended for one day for violating the policy on using lights and sirens. Vaughn also faces additional discipline.

An officer driving a second car which was following Vaughn's, Michael Litz, received a one-day suspension for the same violation.

Cole's family said the boy died doing what he loved most.

"He loved to be on his bike, loved it so much. That's part of what makes this so horrible," said Eva Havens, Berardi's aunt. "We understand that it was (his) time to go, and we know that wherever he is, he's safe and he's happy."

Vaughn, who has been with the Dallas Police Department since October 2003, was placed on standard paid administrative leave during the course of the investigation into the crash.

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